The Honest Company has come under fire after a Wall Street Journal report claimed one of the company's products is full of the chemicals it publicly claims to avoid.
The startup, which was co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, has swelled to a $1.7 billion valuation by selling products that promise to be safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than mainstream brands.
On its website, the company says it believes that products people use on a daily basis should be safe for both the home and family members.
"We also believe it's better to be safe than sorry when deciding what goes in our products and we're vigilant about the latest science regarding chemicals and health to ensure we're being mindfully cautious," the company says.
One of the chemicals the Honest Company has vowed to avoid is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a cleaning agent found in common household items like laundry detergent and toothpaste.
The Honest Company says the agent is a common skin irritant and is even used in lab testing to intentionally harm skin.
"SLS and SLES are both included in our Honestly Free Guarantee which means we'll never use them," the company has written.
Instead, the company vowed to use sodium coco sulfate (SCS), a coconut-based agent that is "gentler" on skin.
However, a report from the Wall Street Journal is casting doubt on the company's claims. The newspaper reports two independent labs tested the company's laundry detergent and found a large amount of SLS.
In fact, one of the labs, Chemir, found that the Honest Company detergent contained about the same amount of SLS as Tide.
"It was not a trace amount," a chemist for the lab told the Wall Street Journal.
Barbara Pavan, of the second lab, Impact Analytical, agreed. She told the newspaper that her lab's tests had found a "significant" amount of SLS in Honest Company detergent.
The Honest Company is hotly disputing the newspaper's claims, slamming the report as "disappointing," "misleading," and full of "factual inaccuracies."
The company asserted that their detergent does not contain SLS, only the "gentler" SCS.
The company said that they provided the Wall Street Journal evidence to back up these claims, but were ignored. The company added that the labs didn't test for SCS in their products.
"The Journal clearly had the goal of harming the reputation and good will that we are so proud to have built here at Honest and we wanted to set the record straight," the company said in a statement.
Despite the Honest Company's denials, some angry customers have written on the company's Facebook page that they feel duped.
"I am so disgusted by this company," one woman wrote. "I am in my first trimester of pregnancy, and I have been taking these prenatal vitamins, now I am worried they are fake."
The Wall Street Journal is also standing by its reporting, telling the Associated Press the story is "accurate" and "fair."
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at email@example.com.
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